The Number of His Name

“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy” (Rev 13:1). John stood on the shoreline of Judea looking westward across the Mediterranean Sea and saw a beast rise from Rome, “the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power” (v. 2). And he had told us earlier that the dragon is the devil, “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan” (12:9). The devil gave this beast its power, and worship of either is the same, “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast” (v. 4).

John also saw a second beast, “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon” (v. 11). It’s this second beast that forces the mark, “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark” (vs. 16-17).

However, “the name of the beast” and “the number of his name” (v. 17) concerns the first beast. It’s one beast but three—a leopard, a bear, and a lion. It’s a three-part entity or tri-entity. As with one god in three co-equal persons, six hundred and sixty-six is one number in three equal numbers 6=6=6. The number of his name is three or tri- because “Trinity” is his name and this number is in his name.

Later, John saw a woman riding this beast, “I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (17:3-6). Of course many identify this woman as the Roman Catholic Church. She tortured and murdered millions of people to establish the Trinitarian beast carrying her.

Furthermore, she is “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS.” About 500 years ago Martin Luther led the Protestant Reformation which wasn’t a reformation at all but a birth after its own kind—multitudes of Protestant churches playing the harlot just like their mother. All of them worshipping this Trinitarian beast and the dragon.

Israel and Judah both “played the harlot” (Jer 3:1,6,8; Exe 16:28, 23:5,19), and it was for that reason Judah was sent to Babylon. Jeremiah wrote of God’s people, “But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them” (Jer 9:13-14). They were walking after a false god they had been taught for generations, and the pattern has repeated. For hundreds of years we’ve been taught a false Trinitarian god. And as they were carried away captive to Babylon, so it will be in these last days, “great Babylon came in remembrance before God” (16:19), “MYSTERY, BABYLON” (Rev 17:5).

Upon the beast’s heads is “the name of blasphemy [blasphēmia 988]” (v. 1). The Greek noun blasphēmia and verb blasphemō mean “speak against” as Christ Himself used it: “the blasphemy [blasphēmia 988] against the Holy Ghost [breath] shall not be forgiven unto men … but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost [breath], it shall not be forgiven him” (Mat 12:31,32), “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth [blasphemō 987] against the Holy Ghost [breath] it shall not be forgiven” (Luk 12:10).

The beast’s very name “Trinity” is “the name of blasphemy” (v. 1), because tri- or 3 speaks against what Christ and His apostles taught, that God is one and that God is Christ’s God: “The Lord our God is one Lord” (Mar 12:29); “thee the only true God” (Jhn 17:3); “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mat 27:46; Mar 15:34); “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (Jhn 20:17); “Christ is God’s” (1Co 3:23); “But to us there is but one God, the Father” (1Co 8:6); “the head of Christ is God” (1Co 11:3).

The beast is fast, strong, and ferocious. Like a leopard it can’t be outrun, and like a bear it can’t be overcome. Its roar, like that of a lion, is terrifying: denying the Trinity is said to be the blasphemy which will never be forgiven; those leaving the church never were really saved; those outside Trinitarian churches are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and cults. Its roar tests who we fear more—God or the beast.

Loving as God Loves

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (Jhn 3:16-17). God didn’t send His Son into this world to condemn us by telling us just how rotten we really are! Rather, because He loves us so much, He sent His Son into this world so that we could be saved.

Abraham got just a taste of God’s unfathomable love when he was told to do the unthinkable—sacrifice his own son whom he loved dearly, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there” (Gen 22:2). Of course it was only a test in which he was stopped short of doing, but he didn’t know that at the time. And Isaac, like a harmless lamb, was innocent of anything but simply yielded to his father. For God to require this sacrifice from Abraham, God would require no less from Himself, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Gen 22:8). Even knowing how horribly His dearly beloved Son would suffer—being mocked, shamed, spat upon, flogged, crucified—He loved us so much to subject Him to it all.

“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us … when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom 5:7-8,10). From a human perspective; few would die for a righteous man, and even fewer would die for a good man, but how many would die for their enemy? Yet God did just that. He commended or proved His love by sending His Son to die for His enemies!

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (1Jo 4:9-11). God loved us even though we didn’t love Him. We now love Him only because He first loved us, “We love him, because he first loved us” (1Jo 4:19). If He hadn’t loved us while we were His enemies, we never would have loved Him. Therefore, as He so loved us, we must also love others—we must love our enemies.

Jesus taught, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Mat 5:43-45). God loves His enemies every day by sending sunlight and rain to maintain the ecosystem, sustaining all life. And His children must do likewise—do good to the unloving and even to the hating.

John used Abel and Cain as examples of a child of God and a child of the devil, “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works [actions] were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” (1Jo 3:10-12). Although Cain was Abel’s enemy, Abel loved Cain. God’s children and the devil’s children are known by their actions—by either loving or not loving their enemies.

Many teach that God had respect to Abel’s offering because it was a blood sacrifice, “And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” (Gen 4:4). But that’s not the case. It was Abel himself that God respected, and Cain himself that He didn’t, “And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect” (v. 5). Had Cain’s actions been righteous as Abel’s, he also would have been accepted, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” (v. 7). God doesn’t regard gifts from those He doesn’t regard. We must first be accepted before our gifts will be.

Christ taught the intent of “Thou shalt not kill” (Mat 5:21), “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Mat 5:23-24). We’re breaking “Thou shalt not kill” when we’re not doing all we can to be at peace with others including our enemies, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men … if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink” (Rom 12:18,20). Like God, God’s children love their enemies by doing good to them.

The Word was God

The beginning statement of John’s Gospel is the favorite of Trinitarian ministers to teach that Jesus Christ is God Himself, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” (Jhn 1:1-2). But twice John said He was “with God” which corresponds with what he later wrote in his first letter, “That which was from the beginning … the Word of life … which was with the Father” (1Jo 1:2). John clarified that the Father is God and the Word was with Him.

The phrase “the Word was God” is simply a metaphor or figure of speech because not only the context contains other metaphors but this very phrase does as well. The Son of God isn’t literally “the Word” nor is He literally “the Light” (v. 7). These are metaphors. And just as “the light was the life” (v. 4) is a metaphor, so is “the Word was God.” He represented God to such perfection that He “was God” in metaphorical equivalence. He said of Himself, “he that seeth me seeth him that sent me” (Jhn 12:45), “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (Jhn 14:9). When people saw the Son literally, they were seeing the Father figuratively. His apostles also wrote, “Christ, who is the image of God” (2Co 4:4), “Who is the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), “the express image of his person” (Heb 1:3). He is the precise image, figure, or representation of God.

Not only Christ isn’t God Himself but has a God Himself—God the Father is His God as He called Him before He died, after He was resurrected, and after He was seated at His right hand: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mat 27:46; Mar 15:34); “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (Jhn 20:17); “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God” (Rev 3:12).

Several times the apostles called God the Father, Jesus Christ’s God: “God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 15:6); “And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1Co 3:23); “the head of Christ is God” (1Co 11:3); “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Co 11:31); “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:3; 1Pe 1:3) “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:17); “God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Col 1:3).

The writer of Hebrews wasn’t calling the Son “God” in “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God” (Heb 1:8). This was a quote from a passage in Psalm 45 which begins with “Thy throne, O God.” However, the part where God was speaking to His Son, “God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” God wasn’t calling His Son “God” but calling Himself His Son’s God!

It isn’t the Son but the Father that is called “God” in these places: “God my Saviour” (Lke 1:47); “God, who is the Saviour” (1Ti 4:10); “God our Saviour” (1Ti 1:1; 1Ti 2:3; Tit 1:3, 2:10, 3:4; Jde 1:25). Many times God is called the Savior of His people: “They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt” (Psa 106:21); “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour” (Isa 45:15); “there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour” (Isa 45:21); “I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer” (Isa 49:26,60:16); “there is no saviour beside me” (Hos 13:4).

That Christ “said also that God was his Father, making himself equal [isos 2470] with God” (Jhn 5:18), was equality with God by virtue of having been begotten of God, “his only begotten Son … the only begotten Son of God” (Jhn 3:16,18). As a human son is equally human as his father but not in authority, so it is with the Son and His Father. Trinitarianism, however, teaches that they are coequal: “equal with another or each other in rank, ability, extent, etc.” Dictionary.com.

Christ isn’t God Himself but God’s Son. Many times Christ called God His Father and Himself His Son. And He never once called Himself “God” but did call His Father “God,” and the only true God, “thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent” (Jhn 17:3). Likewise, the Father never called His Son “God” but twice from heaven—at His baptism and transfiguration—called Him “My Beloved Son.” What they said about themselves and each other is the truth and last word on the matter.

Can anyone be saved while knowingly disagreeing with the Savior? Trinitarian ministers are educated, intelligent, and knowledgeable. Of course they know what the Son said about God and about Himself, yet they preach something different. If they won’t listen to the Son, why listen to them?

How to Know We Know God

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1Jo 2:3). “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him” (1Jo 3:24). John didn’t say that we know God when we’re believers but when we’re keeping His commandments. That we must keep His commandments to know Him, then when we keep His commandments we know that we know Him.

There are two main distinctions to recognize with the law of Moses: (1) the moral righteousness of the law; (2) the non-moral actions of the law. The moral righteousness of the law is expressed in the second half of the Decalogue, “Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet” (Exo 20:13-17). Such morality is true of all people made after the image of God. But the non-moral actions of the law, “the deeds [actions] of the law” (Rom 3:20,28), “the works [actions] of the law” (Gal 2:6,3:2,5,10), are the ordinances God imposed upon His people by circumcision, mainly abstinence from unclean meats, keeping the Sabbath day, observing the annual feasts, and animal sacrifices.

Jesus Christ upheld the moral righteousness of the law: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Mat 5:17); “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Mat 7:12); “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Mat 22:37-40). Paul and James agreed: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (13:9-10); “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Gal 5:14); “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well” (Jas 2:8).

However, Christ set us free from the actions of the law: “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man” (Mat 15:11); “There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him” (Mar 7:15); “all things are clean unto you” (Luk 11:41); “the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father” (Jhn 4:21); “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself” (Rom 14:14); “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Gal 5:1).

That Peter “did eat with the Gentiles” (Gal 2:12), was when the Lord sent him to Cornelius’ house, “Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean” (Act 10:13-14). These were the actions of the law Paul was addressing with the Galatians, “no one is justified by the works [actions] of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works [actions] of the law, because by the works [actions] of the law no one will be justified” (Gal 2:16 NET).

False teachers were compelling the Galatians to be circumcised, “they constrain you to be circumcised” (Gal 6:12). But this was a different message than what Christ and His apostles preached, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8). Circumcision requires doing all the law, “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law” (Gal 5:2-3), not just the moral righteousness but also the non-moral actions. Paul’s message was that keeping one commandment fulfills all that’s required, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Gal 5:13-14).

The false message of salvation by faith being preached today is given credibility by conflating the moral righteousness of the law with its non-moral actions. Therefore, when Paul stated, “a man is justified by faith [faithfulness] without the deeds [actions] of the law” (Rom 3:28), “a man is not justified by the works [actions] of the law, but by the faith [faithfulness] of Jesus Christ” (Gal 2:16), rather than justification by Jesus Christ’s faithfulness and not the non-moral actions of the law, it’s supposedly justification by our believing and not by morally righteous living. It’s a different “gospel” message than what Jesus Christ and His apostles preached.

Christ bound the moral righteousness of the law upon us while also freeing us from its non-moral actions. We know God by keeping His commandments, therefore we know that we know Him when we’re keeping His commandments, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1Jo 2:3).

What is the Gospel?

When Paul said, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them … For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts” (2Co 4:4,6), he was revealing the mystery of the gospel hidden since the beginning, “darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit [breath] of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (Gen 1:2-3). This literal, historic event was figurative and prophetic of what would come—mankind’s minds would be blind and hearts dark but God would send His Son to preach the “light” of His gospel. The gospel is the message God’s Son was sent to preach. There’s no other gospel.

Christ’s 12 apostles, including Paul, were all saved by His gospel message. And the gospel they took to the world is the message they learned from Him. There’s no disagreement or disconnect whatsoever in the message they all preached. Paul said he learned the gospel from Christ Himself, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Gal 1:11-12). And he was unashamed to preach the same gospel Christ preached, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth [trusts]” (Rom 1:16), “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ” (Rom 16:25).

The gospel is everything Jesus Christ taught and preached collectively. The gospel can’t be compartmentalized apart from other subjects—as it’s done today—because it’s composed of everything Jesus preached. What Christ taught about God, Himself, mankind, righteousness, eternal life, judgment, and the last days is the gospel. It’s not “Steps to Peace with God” or the “Romans Road to Salvation.”

Jesus told a Samaritan woman, “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit [breath] and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit [breath] and in truth.” (Jhn 4:22-24). The Samaritans were the closest people to the Jews yet even they weren’t saved because they didn’t know and worship the true God. We must worship the true God to be saved. Nobody but the only begotten Son has seen God, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (Jhn 1:18). Therefore, what He said about God is the truth and the only way of eternal life, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (Jhn 17:3). There’s no other gospel.

Christ taught that we must live righteously to enter the kingdom, “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20). And that He will deny entrance to those breaking God’s laws, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mat 7:23), “you lawbreakers!” (NET), “you who practice lawlessness!” (NKJV), “you who break God’s laws” (NLT). In His last words to us, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev 22:14).

John stated, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1Jo 2:3-4). It’s not “believers” but those keeping His commandments that know Him. Those transgressing or not abiding in what Christ taught, don’t have God, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” (2Jo 1:9). There’s no other gospel.

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Mat 4:23), “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Mat 9:35), “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Mat 24:14). So called evangelistic organizations track how many people groups in the world today are still unreached. The fact is, they all are! None have been reached with “this gospel of the kingdom” Jesus Christ preached. What’s being preached today is a god in three persons, a heavenly destiny of man, and salvation by believing some facts are true.

The gospel is the message God’s Son preached—everything He preached! But if we won’t listen to Him, we have no hope and we’ll perish. There’s no other gospel.

Baptism in the Name of Jesus

There’s evidence from church history that the statement “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Mat 28:19), is a corruption by the Roman Catholic Church into this Trinitarian formula. That Matthew wrote his Gospel originally in Hebrew was attested by Ireneus, Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Jerome. And the Hebrew says nothing about baptism or any name, “To me has been given all power in heaven and earth. Go and (teach) them to carry out all things which I have commanded you forever” (“The Hebrew Gospel of Matthew” George Howard, Mercer University Press 1995). Christ’s commission in Mark, however, includes both baptism and His name: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils” (Mar 16:16-17). And in Luke, His name: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luk 24:47).

That baptism is in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is what the apostles and early church practiced without exception: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ” (Act 2:38); “they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Act 8:16); “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Act 10:48); “they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Act 19:5); “be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Act 22:16).

In the very first evangelistic sermon, Peter quoted Joel, “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Act 2:21), then instructed, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Act 2:38). He later declared that salvation is in the name of Jesus Christ, “the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth … there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Act 4:10,12). Paul himself called upon the name of the Lord when he was baptized, “be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Act 22:16). And Paul also quoted Joel, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13). Baptism isn’t someone else calling a name over us, but us calling upon the name of the Lord.

It’s in His name that we must believe or trust for salvation: “to them that believe [trust] on his name” (Jhn 1:12); “many believed [trusted] in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did” (Jhn 2:23); “because he hath not believed [trusted] in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jhn 3:18); “and that believing [trusting] ye might have life through his name” (Jhn 20:31); “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth [trusts] in him shall receive remission of sins” (Act 10:43); “That we should believe [trust] on the name of his Son Jesus Christ” (1Jo 3:23); “you that believe [trust] on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe [trust] on the name of the Son of God” (1Jo 5:13).

Furthermore, servants of the Lord Jesus Christ suffer for His name: “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Mat 10:22); “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Mat 24:9); “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Mar 13:13); “they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake” (Luk 21:12); “But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me” (Jhn 15:21); “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” (Act 5:41); “For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Act 9:16); “Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Act 15:26); “I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Act 21:13); “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ” (1Pe 4:14).

Finally, Christ commended three of the churches in Asia for upholding and not denying His name: “And hast bourne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted” (Rev 2:3); “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name” (Rev 2:13); “and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (Rev 3:8).

The name of “the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” isn’t the name of one person but three—the name “Trinity.” And Jesus taught nothing about a name of three persons. Peter declared, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Salvation is limited exclusively to the name of one person—the Lord Jesus Christ while excluding all other names entirely. Where does that leave the name “Trinity”?

The Just Shall Live by His Faithfulness

The Hebrew noun ĕmûnȃ in Habakkuk’s famous statement “but the just shall live by his faith [ĕmûnȃ 530]” (2:4), means “faithfulness” as a few translations render it correctly, “live because of his faithfulness” (NET), “live by his faithfulness” (NIV). This word appears about 50 times in the Old Testament and consistently carries the meaning of faithfulness within its contexts. Of course Habakkuk 2:4 is quoted three times in the New Testament, “The just shall live by faith [pistis 4102]” (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38). The Greek noun pistis is used almost 250 times in the NT and is always translated as “faith” except just three places where the context forces otherwise, “the faithfulness [pistis 4102] of God” (Rom 3:3 NKJV), “kindness, goodness, faithfulness [pistis 4102]” (Gal 5:22 NKJV), “showing all good fidelity [pistis 4102]” (Tit 2:10 NKJV). This word pistis also appears about 30 times in the Greek Septuagint, and all but three are rendered into English as “faithfully,” “faithfulness,” “truth,” “trust,” “loyalty,” “reliable,” “steadfast,” or “assuredly.”

Furthermore, Habakkuk wasn’t talking about our faith or faithfulness but God’s, “his faithfulness” (Hab 2:4 NET, NIV). In all three letters he was quoted, “The just shall live by faith [faithfulness]” (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38), it was about God’s faithfulness to the promise He made to Abraham: “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed” (Rom 4:13); “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made … that it should make the promise of none effect … God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Gal 3:16,17,18); “For when God made promise to Abraham” (Heb 6:13). About 1,500 years after making a promise to Abraham, God told Habakkuk that He was being faithful to that promise.

Because Abraham didn’t withhold his son from God, “And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son” (Gen 22:10), God promised to not withhold His Son from Abraham, “By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen 22:16-18). That “God will provide himself a lamb” (Gen 22:8), God was faithful to keep that promise, “Behold the Lamb of God” (Jhn 1:29,36).

God had told His people that His love for them was because of the promise He swore to their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: “And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt” (Deu 4:37); “But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deu 7:8); “that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Deu 9:5); “Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day” (Deu 10:15). God’s purpose in them was to fulfill the promise He made to their fathers.

Therefore, when Paul wrote, “What advantage then hath the Jew? … shall their unbelief [unfaithfulness] make the faith [faithfulness] of God without effect [katargeō 2673]? (Rom 3:1,3), “Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?” (NIV), is that God’s people being unfaithful to Him wouldn’t cause Him to be unfaithful to Abraham. If the law of Moses was the intended end, then God’s faithfulness to keep His promise to Abraham is made without effect or unfulfilled, “For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith [faithfulness] is made void, and the promise made of none effect [katargeō 2673]” (Rom 4:14), “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect [katargeō 2673]. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” (Gal 3:17-18).

Finally, the Greek verb zaō in “The just shall live [zaō 2198] by faith [faithfulness],” isn’t our manner of living but eternal life itself. The English “live” when used with an object conveys “manner of living” or “way of living,” but without an object it’s “to remain alive” or “to continue to have life.” Paul used both forms in this one statement, “For if ye live [zaō 2198] after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit [breath] do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live [zaō 2198]” (Rom 8:13). The first is with the object “after the flesh,” expressing a way of living. But the second is without an object indicating “to have life.” Therefore, “The just shall live by faith [faithfulness]” is that the just or righteous obtain eternal life by God’s faithfulness—His faithfulness to Abraham in providing His Son for our sacrifice.

Myths that Turn from the Truth

There are two main distinctions to recognize with the law of Moses: (1) the moral righteousness of the law; (2) the non-moral actions of the law. The righteousness of the law is expressed in the moral commandments, “Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness … Thou shalt not covet” (Exo 20:13-17). Such morality is inherent and binding upon all people made after the image of God. But the actions of the law are the non-moral ordinances God imposed upon His people by circumcision: abstaining from meats, keeping the Sabbath day, observing annual feasts, and offering sacrifices.

Because Christ set us free from those actions of the law, He warned us to not misunderstand Him as destroying the righteousness of the law, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law [nomos 3551], or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil” (Mat 5:17), “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law [nomos 3551] and the prophets” (Mat 7:12). He will deny entrance into the Kingdom those that didn’t keep the righteousness of the law, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity [anomia 458]” (Mat 7:23), “workers of lawlessness” (DBY), “you lawbreakers” (NET), “you who practice lawlessness” (NKJV), “you who break God’s laws” (NLT). The Greek noun anomia is the negation of the noun nomos for “law.”

The issue with the Gentiles in Galatia was that false teachers of the law had deceived them into circumcision with the intent of keeping the actions of the law. The Greek noun ergon means “actions,” whatever actions the context requires. In Galatians, it’s Peter’s actions that “he did eat with the Gentiles” (Gal 2:12), “We are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet we know that no one is justified by the works [ergon 2041] of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works [ergon 2041] of the law, because by the works [ergon 2041] of the law no one will be justified” (Gal 2:15-16 NET). Nobody is justified by the actions of the law—abstaining from unclean meats—but by Christ’s faithfulness to His Father in giving Himself as the sacrifice for our sins, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20 NET).

This was also the issue Paul addressed with the Romans—Christ’s faithfulness versus the actions of the law, “the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ … because of Jesus’ faithfulness” (Rom 3:22.26 NET), “a man is justified by faith [faithfulness] without the deeds [ergon 2041] of the law” (Rom 3:28).

Rather than the actions of the law versus the faithfulness of Christ, false teaching today makes it an issue of the righteousness of the law versus our faith or beliefs. The righteousness of the law is being destroyed by faith.

In the apostles’ days, the false teachers were “specially they of the circumcisionJewish fables [mythos 3454], and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. Unto the pure all things are pure” (Tit 1:10,14-15). The myth they used to turn people from the truth was that some meats weren’t pure. But these were simply actions of righteousness which don’t save, “Not by works [ergon 2041] of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost [breath]” (Tit 3:5). In our days, true to what Paul prophesied, it’s a different myth altogether that’s turning people away from the truth, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables [mythos 3454]” (2Ti 4:3-4). The myth is that we’re saved by faith, not by keeping the moral righteousness of the law.

The truth Christ and His apostles taught is that we must live righteously: “That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:20); “Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law” (Rom 2:26); “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us” (Rom 8:4); “that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (1Pe 2:24); “And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1Pe 4:18); “he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous … whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God” (1Jo 3:7,10).

In Christ’s last words to us, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev 22:14). It’s not about believing but about doing God’s commandments.

God’s Faithfulness, Not Abraham’s Faith

The Greek noun pistis translated as “faith” throughout the New Testament actually means “faithfulness.” Here in Romans, “For what if some did not believe [trust]? shall their unbelief [distrust] make the faith [pistis 4102] of God without effect?” (Rom 3:3), “the faithfulness of God” (ASV, NET, NKJV), “God’s faithfulness” (CSB, NIV), Paul was talking about God’s faithfulness to keep His promise to Abraham: “By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD … That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies” (Gen 22:16-17). That “his enemies” is singular indicates “thy seed” isn’t many people but only one person, “He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Gal 3:16). It’s God’s faithfulness to send His Son as promised.

Paul went on to teach, “his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Rom 3:25). Because God would be faithful to keep His promise of sending His Son as the Lamb, “God will provide himself a lamb” (Gen 22:8), therefore He forbore the sins of the past which would later be remitted by the sacrifice of His Son. What Paul taught here in chapter 3 about God’s faithfulness laid the groundwork for what he taught in chapter 4 about Abraham.

The Greek verb logizomai in “Abraham believed [trusted] God, and it was counted [logizomai 3049] unto him for righteousness” (Rom 4:3), means “to conclude,” “to esteem,” or “to think,” as it’s typically rendered throughout the NT. But when concerning Abraham in Romans 4, it’s always translated “counted,” “imputed,” or “reckoned,” with the meaning of equivalence. It’s that God counted Abraham’s faith as equivalent to righteousness, and likewise if we simply have faith or believe!

However, the same statement about Abraham, “And he believed [trusted] in the LORD; and he counted [ḥāšab 2803] it to him for righteousness [șᵊḏāqȃ 6666]” (Gen 15:6), was also made of Phinehas, “Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed. And that was counted [ḥāšab 2803] unto him for righteousness [șᵊḏāqȃ 6666]” (Psa 106:30-31). What Phinehas did was “took a javelin in his hand; And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly” (Num 25:7-8). This had nothing to do with faith. God simply concluded or esteemed Phinehas’ actions as right in that immoral circumstance. Likewise, that “Abraham believed [trusted] God, and it was counted [logizomai 3049] unto him for righteousness” (Rom 4:3), is that God esteemed Abraham’s actions as right. Since Abraham trusted God to be faithful to His promise, therefore God forgave him based upon the sacrifice His Son would one day make.

The Greek ergon simply means “actions,” whatever actions the context requires. In “For if Abraham were justified by works [ergon 2041]” (Rom 4:2), it’s his actions of building altars to offer sacrifices and call upon the name of the Lord: “there builded he an altar unto the LORD … there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD” (Gen 12:7,8), “Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD” (Gen 13:4), “built there an altar unto the LORD” (Gen 13:18). But he abruptly stopped building altars and began trusting God to provide the sacrifice for his sins, “And he believed [trusted] in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen 15:6). This is what Abraham found or discovered, “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?” (Rom 4:1).

David found the same, “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth [logizomai 3049] righteousness without works [ergon 2041], Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute [logizomai 3049] sin.” (Rom 4:6-8). In Psalm 32, “I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin,” David was forgiven by confessing his sins and said nothing about the actions of offering a sacrifice. And in Psalm 51, he even said that he didn’t offer a sacrifice, “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it.

That “his faith [faithfulness] is counted [logizomai 3049] for righteousness” (v. 5), “faith [faithfulness] was reckoned [logizomai 3049] to Abraham for righteousness” (v. 9), “it was imputed [logizomai 3049] to him for righteousness” (v. 22), is that God’s faithfulness was considered to Abraham for righteousness. This had nothing to do with Abraham’s faith. The issue was how sins could be forgiven prior to Christ’s sacrifice, “the remission of sins that are past. The answer is that “through the forbearance of God,” God considered His faithfulness to provide His Son’s sacrifice as good as done. Therefore, His faithfulness was considered righteousness.

Hedge Apple Trees, Known by Their Fruits

Hedge apple trees (Maclura pomifera), in contrast with apple trees, bear fruit that’s unpalatable and useless for food by either people or animals. But consistent with apple trees, the seeds from its fruit produce more of the same kind of trees, “the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself … the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind” (Gen 1:11,12).

Christ warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Mat 7:15-16). As there were false prophets among God’s people, false teachers are the equivalent today, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you” (2Pe 2:1). And Christ wasn’t just teaching us how to identify them, but urging us to identify them. He commended the church at Ephesus for doing so, “thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars” (Rev 2:2).

Concerning the Pharisees, He said, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Mat 12:33-34). What the fruit is to the tree, the mouth is to the heart. God first created trees whose seeds are from its fruit, then created humans whose words are from their hearts. And as good fruit comes from good trees and corrupt fruit from corrupt trees, so it is with true and false teachers. The seeds from their fruit produces more trees just like them.

Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus the requirements for ordaining bishops, deacons, and elders over churches, “A bishop then must be blameless” (1Ti 3:2), “ordain elders in every city … If any be blameless … For a bishop must be blameless” (Tit 1:5,6,7). To “Lay hands suddenly on no man” (1Ti 5:22), is to give time for men to be proven first before ordaining them, “And let these also first be proved” (1Ti 3:10). All of this was to ensure that “apple trees” were in fact being planted because the same principle is true with hedge apple trees.

Hedge apple trees only plant other hedge apple trees. They’re not going to ordain and place apple trees—men truly leading people to salvation—over churches. They only plant hedge apple trees which, in turn, plant more hedge apple trees. This is why all “Christian” churches over the entire world today are simply a vast forest of hedge apple trees. And anyone within these churches sincerely seeking the truth objectively, questioning from the Scriptures what’s being taught, are kept in check or pressured to leave if not conforming. This ensures entire churches continue to be hedge apple trees on their way to destruction.

Hedge apple trees placed over churches aren’t passive either. It isn’t that they’re just not helping people get saved but that they’re preventing it. They’re not simply neglecting to gather with Christ, but working to scatter from Him, “he that gathereth not with me scattereth” (Mat 12:30; Luk 11:23).

False teachers will never agree with Christ’s claims about God and about Himself any more than a hedge apple tree can grow apples from its branches. Time and again I’ve spoken with Trinitarian “ministers” who deny Christ’s own claim that His Father is the one true God and His God. But when they become irate and contentious, it’s not against my words but against His.

When I was a Trinitarian, there was one minister in particular I was very close with. He was the utmost example of how I wanted to be one day in my walk with God. And over the years we had many, many good times together in study, prayer, small group discussions, co-teaching, home visitations, retreats, and just talking with each other. He always had time for me, and I consistently sensed warmth and care from him. There were a few times, however, when sharing with him in private the truths I was learning from the Scriptures, that I experienced conflict. It bothered me that he not only wasn’t excited about discovering the truth like I was, but was actually resisting it. But I didn’t know then what I know now.

Wolves can’t be known by their lifestyles because their “clothing” is virtually that of sheep. In fact, they’re usually better “sheep” than true sheep! They can be known only by their fruits, just as Jesus said. It’s because they’re all on the same side—in agreement, fellowship, endorsement, and support of each other—that they’re all hedge apple trees. They keep us listening to their sermons, reading their books, and using their study resources because they don’t want us understanding the Scriptures for ourselves and becoming apple trees. After all, if we become apple trees ourselves, we’ll be a threat to their agenda by planting apple trees.